Crusading was a popular and widespread activity in the Middle Ages. Intended to appeal to the military elite who could fight on behalf of Christianity, crusading attracted a wide swathe of the European population, from emperors and kings to tanners and prostitutes. Not everyone who made a crusading vow could or would take part, but the effects of the crusades touched more than simply those who went on crusade. Recruitment efforts were felt by people who never took the Cross, as the message of helping fellow Christians under threat was preached from market crosses and church pulpits. Funding the crusades, something that became more centralised as time went on, touched non-crusaders, as general taxes, levies on wool and movables, and levies on church income were gathered to pay for those who went on crusade. Returning crusaders brought information back from their adventures, whether the details of battles or knowledge of building techniques. Many monastic scribes who never left the confines of their religious houses, let alone went to the Holy Land, were well informed on crusading events and included them in their histories, while even those living in the remotest parts of Britain and Ireland might have come into contact with land and property owned by one of the military orders. In some cases, these orders played a part in local religious life, administering the sacrament or providing hospitality and care for the sick.
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